RALEIGH — Monday night’s date with the Ottawa Senators was as close to a must-win game as a November 11 game could get for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Losers of four consecutive games, including one on the road against the very same Senators on Saturday, the Hurricanes had to get back on track and back to playing the brand of hockey they played in the early weeks of the season.
It will take more than one win against a bottom-dwelling team to right ship, but Carolina’s effort on Veterans Day was certainly a step in the right direction.
It didn’t take long at all for the Hurricanes to get a bounce and the lead.
All of 44 seconds into the first period, a centering pass from Ryan Dzingel found Warren Foegele streaking through the right circle, and Foegele’s shot bounced off an Ottawa defender and through the legs of Anders Nilsson to give the Canes an early 1-0 advantage.
The Hurricanes built off of that momentum and strung together long stretches of offensive zone pressure through the opening 20 minutes.
Some fireworks went off around the halfway point of the period when Bobby Ryan steamrolled Brian Gibbons in the Ottawa zone. It teetered on the edge of being a penalty, but Brock McGinn decided to take matters into his own hands. Ryan and McGinn had a short scrap that didn’t feature much in the way of connected punches. They both sat for five minutes.
Carolina kept their foot down and Foegele drew an interference penalty on Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the 16:10 mark.
With 15 seconds remaining in the man advantage, the Hurricanes took advantage. Lucas Wallmark set up Jake Gardiner for a one-timer at the top of the point, and his shot got blocked in the slot and bounced right to an unmarked Martin Necas on the right wing. After settling the puck, Necas fired home his fourth goal of the season to bump their lead to two goals.
The offense broke open even more for the Hurricanes in the second period - to the tone of three more goals.
The scoring was opened during a Jake Gardiner minor penalty. Sebastian Aho applied pressure at the blue line, blocked a pass, and collected the puck for a long breakaway chance. He hesitated and beat Nilsson clean to the blocker side for his seventh goal of the season to make it 3-0.
Just over halfway through the period, a seemingly harmless play ended up in Ottawa’s net. Eetu Luostarinen dropped the puck off to Haydn Fleury just inside the Senators’ blue line, Fleury flew in down the left wing, and his centering pass intended for Andrei Svechnikov deflected off of a stick in front and over the shoulder of Nilsson.
The fortunate bounce resulted in Fleury’s second goal of the season and Luostarinen’s first NHL point. It also increased Carolina’s lead to four goals, and marked the end of the line for Nilsson. He allowed 4 goals on 19 shots before giving up the net to Craig Anderson.
Just under four minutes later, the Hurricanes scored again. Sebastian Aho made a good play on the back-check to break up Ottawa’s transition up ice. Dougie Hamilton read the play well and jumped up ice to bury a centering feed from Teuvo Teravainen in the high slot to make it a 5-0 score and really put the game out of reach in the middle frame.
The goal was Hamilton’s eighth of the season, which is tied with Erik Haula for the most on the Hurricanes.
The Senators got a goal back late in the second period off of a misplay from Petr Mrazek that wound up right on the tape of Colin White at the side of the net. White had the whole goal to shoot at and didn’t miss, netting his second goal of the season and breaking Mrazek’s shutout bid with 95 seconds left in the second period.
Up 5-1 in the third period, the Hurricanes weren’t quite satisfied. Only one minute into the final frame, they found twine again.
A long-range shot from Joel Edmundson got kicked out by Anderson, skipped off the end wall, deflected up into the air, and Aho waited for the puck to flutter down below the cross bar before he whacked it out of mid-air and into the Ottawa net to make it a 6-1 game. The goal marked Aho’s first multi-goal game of the season.
The Senators came back to score on a bit of a broken play during a delayed penalty sequence to cut the Carolina lead to 6-2. It was Brady Tkachuk’s 6th goal of the season.
Just over three minutes later, the Hurricanes got yet another one. Brett Pesce’s point shot rebounded out in front of the net, Foegele occupied space and kicked the puck to Edmundson, and Edmundson found Ryan Dzingel all alone for a tap-in goal to make it to convert the extra point and make it 7-2.
Things started to get chippy down the stretch, as blowouts often do, but that didn’t stop the Hurricanes from scoring an eighth goal.
Dzingel and Nick Paul both got two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, and during the 4-on-4 segment, Necas carried the puck out around the Ottawa blue line, put the puck right in Edmundson’s wheelhouse, and Edmundson rifled a one-timer right by the glove of Anderson to make good on the two-point conversion and make it an 8-2.
That’s where the scoring would finally end. The win for Carolina marked the end to a painful four-game losing streak and got them back in the win column for the tenth time this season.
Fourteen of 18 Hurricane skaters got a point on Monday night. Half of those 14 had multi-point nights. Edmundson, who entered the game without a point all season to that point, led the way with a three-point night.
Petr Mrazek didn’t have a difficult night, but he did stop 24 of the 26 shots he saw.
The Hurricanes are now 10-7-1 on the year and will look to stay in the win column when they hit the road for three games, starting on Thursday in Buffalo.
We haven’t been scoring a lot of goals the last couple of games and we’ve been losing. It’s good for everyone to get a good feel. We played the right way tonight and we got rewarded for it.
We were all ready to go. It was pretty much a must-win for us. Had to play good. It hasn’t been fun for us the last little bit, so we had to get it going tonight and we did a good job.
(On the importance of Foegele’s early goal) It helps. We’ve been trailing a lot, lately, so we could relax a little bit. It was nice to see a puck go in and relax and play our game. We got rewarded.
(On his shorthanded goal) I think that was my third or fourth shorthanded breakaway, so it felt good to put that in.
We didn’t like our first period at all in Ottawa, so that was us setting the bar for ourselves. That’s the mentality and that’s the work we have to do every game
It was a pretty solid game all the way, from start to finish. It was nice to see the puck go in. The past few weeks here have been tough sledding to find the back of the net. Tonight, we were able to find the back of the net, which was nice.
You love that kid (Brock McGinn) for those reasons (standing up for a teammate in Brian Gibbons after being a game-time decision). You don’t have to worry about him giving everything that he has. He’ll play when he’s banged up. He’s old-school, that’s for sure.
(On Edmundson’s 3-point game) He’s worked really hard and he’s been a great fit for our team. You like to see everyone get rewarded, but he’s been really good, so it’s nice to see.